Police’s ‘poor’ response to budget cuts

19th February 2013. Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire Mark Burns-Williamson.
19th February 2013. Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire Mark Burns-Williamson.

West Yorkshire Police chief Mark Burns-Williamson has defended his force against criticism it has responded “poorly” to government cuts.

A report fromHer Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said the force “faced significant challenges” in making savings needed but had “responded poorly”.

It said the force had taken the “easy option” by relying on short-term savings rather than “tranforming their efficiency”.

West Yorkshire Police has been asked to make annual savings of £96m by 2015 as a result of a 2010 spending review which cut the government’s police grant by 20 per cent.

However, Mr Burns-Williamson, police and crime commissioner, said it was important people understood the severity of cuts it was being asked to make in comparison to other forces.

He said: “The simple fact is that we are among a group of large forces that are more reliant on government funding and therefore suffer the greatest cuts.

“This is an issue the government resolutely fails to address, despite the strong calls for a fairer deal I and other police and crime commissioners have made.

“The need for strong leadership identified in the report is now in place after a period of instability, and I believe this will see West Yorkshire Police continue to cut crime and ensure people in our communties feel safer and are safer.”

Mark Gilmore, chief constable, said: “I fully accept the HMIC assessment that the force has not so far grasped the same opportunities to transform and will be working alongside the commissioner to make the savings needed.”